For perhaps the first time since he took over GM in Detroit in 2019, Red Wings fans seem somewhat perplexed by the move Steve Yzerman made Friday to acquire defenseman Nick Leddy. In reality, it once again appears that Yzerman is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
Some think that by giving up a player (Richard Panik) and a second-round draft pick (52nd overall in 2021), as well as retaining half of Panik’s salary ($1.4 million), Yzerman got fleeced by Lou Lamoriello, his Islanders counterpart. The Isles, after all, needed to move Leddy or risk losing him for no assets in the NHL expansion draft. They were up against it, with protected lists due at 5 p.m. ET today.
Yzerman Can Move Leddy For Assets
However, Yzerman has set himself up well going forward in terms of the asset that Leddy could prove to be. He could easily flip Leddy at next season’s NHL trade deadline and get back the draft be he surrendered to acquire the 30-year-old defenseman.
Perhaps there’s something even shorter-term afoot. Albeit an unlikely scenario, there’s a slim chance that Yzerman is hiding Leddy from the Seattle Kraken by protecting him through the NHL expansion draft. There’s always the possibility he’s got another trade lined up to move Leddy along to some other team shortly after the expansion draft.
Nothing was better the last few years than watching Nick Leddy would go end-to-end and score pic.twitter.com/s87EfeqJSZ
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) July 17, 2021
Even if the supposed worst-case scenario is that Leddy stays in Detroit, is that necessarily a bad thing? Certainly, there’s been much documentation of his defensive shortcomings. At the same time, according to SportLogiq, the only NHL defenseman last season to skate the puck through the neutral zone (from the defensive zone into the offensive zone) more at even-strength was former Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators.
Leddy is fourth all-time among Islanders defensemen with 243 points. Only three members of the club’s Stanley Cup dynasty of the 1980s – Denis Potvin (1,052), Stefan Persson (369) and Tomas Jonsson (333) – rate ahead of him.
Leddy Can Mentor Detroit’s Young Defenders
He was tied for 19th last season among NHL defenseman in power-play points with 11. That’s the same total Detroit’s Filip Hronek was also accumulting last season. It was Hronek who led the Wings in scoring with 26 points last season. That total was five fewer than the 31 accumulated by Leddy.
I see this #LGRW trade for Nick Leddy and my immediate thought is how much better their zone entries will be at 5-on-5 and PP.
— Joey Battaino (@joeybattaino) July 17, 2021
Leddy can mentor Hronek. He’ll help a putrid power play that’s been 30th and 31st in the NHL the past two seasons. He can also mentor incoming rookie Moritz Seider. Perhaps Leddy will even be the veteran who pairs along the blueline with Detroit’s top defensive prospect.
It’s okay to be a Doubting Thomas. But to be doubting Yzerman’s hockey sense, well, that’s a strategy that historically has proven to be quite foolish.